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  • Corigliano with Hila Plitmann, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Joann Falletta, John - Mr. Tambourine Man / 3 Hallucinations

Corigliano, Hila Plitmann, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Joann Falletta, John - Mr. Tambourine Man / 3 Hallucinations

Corigliano with Hila Plitmann, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Joann Falletta, John - Mr. Tambourine Man / 3 Hallucinations
  1. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 1. Prelude: Mr. Tambourine Man
  2. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 2. Clothes Line
  3. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 3. Blowin' In the Wind
  4. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 4. Masters of War
  5. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 5. All Along the Watchtower
  6. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 6. Chimes of Freedom
  7. Mr. Tambourine Man (Version with Orchestra): No. 7. Postlude: Forever Young
  8. 3 Hallucinations: No. 1. Sacrifice
  9. 3 Hallucinations: No. 2. Hymn
  10. 3 Hallucinations: No. 3. Ritual
Note: Songs marked with an asterisk (*) are not composed by Bob Dylan

Mr. Tambourine Man, John Corigliano's 35-minute song cycle for amplified soprano and orchestra, had a unique genesis. Corigliano took texts from songs by Bob Dylan, and treated them purely as poetry, without using or referring to Dylan's music. He professes not to even know the Dylan originals, but frankly, it's a little hard to believe that anyone who didn't spend the 1960s in an isolation chamber could have avoided hearing "Blowin' in the Wind" somewhere along the line. Corigliano's experiment pays off because the texts are indeed terrific, and his thoughtful and evocative settings are persuasive interpretations of Dylan's lyrics. His music makes no reference to the folk tradition in which Dylan writes. These are clearly art songs with an entirely different set of aesthetic parameters, but particularly in the more reflective movements, Corigliano's settings have a haunting melancholy that evokes a sensibility of American populism not too far from Dylan's in its depth of feeling and emotional impact. He gives "Forever Young" a strophic setting that's wonderfully melodically memorable; its simplicity and transparency make it achingly poignant. There's a homespun Ivesian flavor to Corigliano's wistful and mysterious setting of "Clothes Line." "Blowin' in the Wind," perhaps the hardest sell because Dylan's original is so distinctive, succeeds because it brings a new twist to the text; it quietly begins with a sense of smoldering anger and grows in intensity as the cumulative power of the unanswerable questions builds, until it erupts in an outcry of full-blown rage before subsiding into resigned sadness. Hila Plitmann's remarkably pure and expressive voice and emotionally direct and unmannered performance make her the ideal interpreter for this material. This is certainly one of the strongest new vocal compositions and extraordinary performances to appear on CD in a while. The CD also includes Three Hallucinations, a suite the composer made from his score for the 1980 Ken Russell film Altered States. The eclectic, skittish music is in fact hallucinatory, full of eccentric juxtapositions, distorted and distended musical gestures, and appropriately random weirdness. Corigliano is a fabulous orchestrator, and his colorful score, although it's definitely "modern music," is approachable and audience-friendly, especially with the subject matter kept in mind. JoAnn Falletta leads the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in accomplished performances that span the technical and expressive spectrum, from the delicacy and finesse of the Dylan songs to the over-the-top wildness of Three Hallucinations. Naxos' sound is immaculate, with great clarity and balance, as well as a convincing sense of depth. -- AllMusic.com, Stephen Eddins, November 2008

The premise seems bizarre at best. A renowned classical composer unfamiliar with Bob Dylan's music studies his lyrics and is subsequently inspired to re-imagine them as a classical concerto, recasting the works with new melodies wholly divorced from Dylan's original compositions. That's the bewildering back story behind John Corigliano's Mr. Tambourine Man, a song cycle that expropriates Dylan's discography - seven songs in all - to underscore a journey of emotion and awareness. Sung by acclaimed soprano Hila Plitmann with JoAnn Falletta conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the music meanders from the idyllic sentiments of "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the call of "Blowin' in the Wind" and concludes with the uplifting optimism of "Forever Young". -- Performing Songwriter Magazine, Lee Zimmerman, December 2008

When Pulitzer-winning composer John Corigliano says he never listened to the songs of Bob Dylan, it's a shocking admission, particularly for a New York musician who was in his 20s in the '60s. One wonders what he would say if another artist admitted never having heard Aaron Copland. Regardless, without even hearing the tunes of Dylan's songs, Corigliano used some of the songwriter's lyrics -- mostly from the '60s protest period -- as poems for his own music. The result was an Americana song suite with political overtones called "Mr. Tambourine Man," first for soprano with piano and now for amplified soprano with orchestra. There are aspects of the cycle that feel almost comically arch, if one has any experience of Dylan's own gritty folk-rock. The bizarre musical-theater moments in the song "Mr. Tambourine Man" are cringe-worthy, as are the operatic outbursts in "Masters of War." But there are some surprisingly effective episodes in Corigliano's suite, thanks to his gift for long, arching melody and dramatic orchestrations. The Copland-esque treatment of "Clothes Line" is lovely, while the pastoral, ruminative setting of "Chimes of Freedom" has a grave, almost Shakespearean theatricality. Corigliano was lucky to find an ideal singer for the cycle: the Jerusalem-born Hila Plitmann, who pairs high technique with intimate phrasing. The disc also features "Three Hallucinations," a suite from Corigliano's score to the 1980 film "Altered States." If aptly nightmarish with the film, the music sounds slightly hokey on its own; still, the piece gets a high-impact performance. -- AllMusic.com, Stephen Eddins, October 2008

Specifications

  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos 8.559331 (2008)
  • Released: 2008
  • Country: US

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